Thornton To The Rescue: Kings Edge Warriors In Preseason Finale

Good defense or ugly offense? Probably mostly the latter, but it’s still good, especially for a young team, to pick up a victory. The Kings turned the ball over a disgusting 27 times, but thanks to some solid shooting, including 10-of-18 from long range, Sacramento held on for a 95-91 win. The Kings wrap up the abbreviated preseason at 1-1 heading into Monday’s regular season opener.

MR. CLUTCH APPEARS – Many people outside of Sacramento felt that $8 million a year for Marcus Thornton may not be warranted. But not Kings fans. We know when the game’s on the line, he’s our man, and there he was again Tuesday with the game-winning basket. Thornton (21 PTS, 7-14 FG, 4-5 3FG, 7 REB, 4 AST) corralled a loose ball, quickly stepped behind the three-point line and buried a longball to put the Kings ahead 92-91 with 27 seconds left. Thornton added two free throws to ice the game. It just solidified the idea that when the game is on the line, Thornton is option #1 with Tyreke in second.

SLOPPY, SLOPPY, SLOPPY – Thornton is part of a three-guard lineup the Kings used frequently with Evans and Jimmer Fredette. The upside is all can handle the ball and all are threats offensively. One of the downsides we all watched against Golden State is that none is considered a true point guard who commands an offense. The Kings ball-handling was ugly and nobody stepped forward as the calming influence. It is part of the growth of a young team and figures to improve but there will be more bumps in the road.

HICKSON BOUNCES BACK – In Oakland, J.J. Hickson played a game that had Kings fans screaming for Samuel Dalembert’s return (which may be coming?). Since then, news broke that Chuck Hayes would not be joining the team, making Hickson the opening night starter. Hickson (19 PTS, 6-11 FG, 7-9 FT, 9 REB, 3 AST) responded with a much better effort Tuesday. He was active on both ends, fighting for rebounds, setting screens and showing some quality offensive skills. We all know J.J. tore it up in Cleveland last year and we got to see how he did it. His athleticism in the paint looks like it will be a huge asset for the team.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Travis Outlaw (16 MIN, 6 PTS, 2-3 3FG, 2 REB, 2 STL) made his debut and it looked like Paul Westphal was trying to run him into the ground. Outlaw was deployed in a full-court press for part of the first half. He also stepped up and hit some jumpers. It remains to be seen who gets those backup small forward minutes when the season starts … Jimmer (12 PTS, 4-9 FG, 2-3 3FG, 4 AST) didn’t produce as much as Saturday but still turned in a solid game … DeMarcus Cousins debuted but looked rusty and at times was way out of control. He turned it over nine times and hit just 2-of-9 shots in 29 minutes.

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